For a Woodstock man, 35 years on the WHS chain gang
The backbone and mostly unrecognized part of any high school sports program is usually the parents who volunteer their time helping at the concession stand, ticket booth or on the field of play with jobs such as moving the chains at football games.
Woodstock High School chose to recognize one of those people, Bob Schnulle, Sept. 21 at halftime of the game between WHS and crosstown rival Woodstock North.
Bob went to WHS and has lived in Woodstock for 50 years. He started working on the chain gang when his oldest son, Gary, was in junior high 35 years ago.
Bob, who retired from the chain gang at the end of the season, said he loved being on the chain gang and wouldn’t change a thing.
“I was surprised,” Bob said. “I was honored [to be recognized]. I worked for four athletic directors, and they were all great guys. I worked with some great coaches and referees. I don’t regret a day of it. I was out there rain or shine, 5 above or 5 below. I love sports and enjoy being around kids.”
Bob and his wife, Gail, will celebrate their 50th anniversary this year. All four of their children graduated from WHS – Gary, Jeff, Don and Ann. Jeff, who graduated in 1985, was part of the 1983 state championship football team.
Jeff and Gary are both part of the chain gang with their father. Jeff joined the chain gang shortly after graduation, and Gary started volunteering in 1993 when he moved back to Illinois from California. Both will continue to be on the chain gang at WHS even though their children are involved with athletics at Woodstock North High School. Gary’s two sons, Jason and Mitchell, graduated from WHS. His daughters, Madison and Paige, go to WNHS. Jeff’s son Jacob is a junior at WNHS and starts on the football team. His daughter, Hannah, is an eighth-grader at Northwood Middle School.
“It’s been a family tradition,” said Gary. “We’ve been doing the chains for so long, and it’s nice to give back to the high school that you went to. I will always bleed that Blue Streak. It’s good to see the program has grown and the different kids that have come through the school.”
Bob also was part of the group that built the first concession stand at Larry Dale Field. He also started the first basketball and wrestling concessions at WHS.
WHS athletic director Glen Wilson said Bob was more than deserving of the honor.
“Bob Schnulle has etched a dedicated, longstanding service to WHS as a chain gang member, Backers Club official and supporter of Blue Streak athletics. And thus, it was deserving to recognize Mr. Schnulle for his commitment to Woodstock High School,” said Wilson in an email.
WHS head football coach Steve Beard said “the chain gang is an important part of the game” and beyond that, Bob and Gail are important parts of the community.
“I see the Schnulle family as a good example of what families are in Woodstock,” Beard said. “They are hard working; they are willing to help others; and they are willing to volunteer their time to make the community and their school better.”
Gary said his father is very humble and it was nice to see him recognized for his effort.
“The best thing is that it was a surprise for him,” Gary said. “He doesn’t like to be recognized ever for things that he does. He’s pretty humble. … He does it because he likes doing it, and it’s the best seat in the house.”